There's something about summer that makes it feel totally appropriate to swap my usual healthy lunch with a week's worth of sodium, saturated fat, and chocolate.
I felt only joy as I alternated nibbling between the too-salty, fake-butter-tasting popcorn and candy coated chocolatey treats. It didn't even bother me that I had swapped my scheduled workout and house cleaning with a spontaneous trip to the movies. If I can't be a tad bit irresponsible and unhealthy in the summer, when I'm home with my boys and my husband, then when can I?
Summer's been in full swing for...what?...almost 3 weeks now? (I refuse to keep track of summer days; it's my defense mechanism). We've spent a week out of town with a friend and her grand kids, been to Orlando for a night of drinking and dancing, been to Key West for a 2-night romantic getaway, been to the local water park twice with our kids and practically everyone else's, played at the local bounce house gym, and had so many pool and beach days that I'm sure our fingers will be permanently prune-y and wrinkled.
Before kids, our summers used to consist of very late nights and equally late mornings. We'd stay out 'til dawn or watch movies 'til 2. We'd rarely open our eyes before noon. Summers were lazy and indulgent.
Then we had Ben, and we spent one summer pregnant, uncomfortable, and anxiously holding our breath for his arrival in September. The following summer was spent trying to figure out how we could still have our beach-filled days with a one-year-old who needed two naps a day.
Just when we were getting our bearings, another summer came filled with pregnant expectations and apprehensions for our August baby.
Then, last summer, every trek to the beach was a comedy of errors: Aidan writhing and rolling off the towel as we tried to change his diaper, Ben wailing every time the salt water hit his eyes. And still, there were those darned scheduled naps.
This summer, there are still naps (well, only one), but our beach days are more fun than trouble. Aidan's rolling on the sand with his big brother more often than rolling off the towel during diaper changes. There are attempts at skimboarding on the shore. Sandcastles. Breakfast by the pool. Spontaneous trips to the movies.
The freedom of this summer is certainly worlds apart from the summers when we were two childless teachers living in a tiny townhouse with a tiny mortgage and a cleaning lady. But there is a new freedom to this summer as well. (And, I suspect, this is just a taste of the summers to come.)
As I watched the ending of "Toy Story 3" today in that dark movie theatre, our oldest son sitting between us, I was surprised by how much crying I did. (Caution: Spoiler alert!) I had been warned that the movie makes you appreciate how quickly time goes by. I had been told most moms (especially of boys) get at least a little teary as Andy gets ready for college. But I was not prepared for the flood of emotions I felt when his mom walks in to his bare room, when the grown-up Andy finds a new home for his beloved toys...and when I recognized the look on little Bonnie's face when she meets her "new" toys...a look of innocence and awe that can only be seen on the face of a small child...I really had to control myself, because at that point, I was not only crying the silent, private tears of a good movie ending, I was nearing full-out, noise-making, only-in-your-own-house sobbing.
What got me was the realization that that look...the look on little Bonnie's face...is on display in my house practically every day. And yet, many days, I miss it (as I am sure so many of us do) because I'm too tired or too stressed or too busy wishing they'd grow up already.
So I didn't feel too guilty about my lunch of popcorn and chocolate. 'Cause I know that in a few years, the summers of learning life lessons from toys will be over, and the days of packing for college will be here. And I'm sure I'll have plenty of time for salads and workouts then...